Employer Interviewing Part 1: Interview Preparation 

Are you one of the three in five hiring managers who have settled for an unqualified candidate? You may have chosen a bad hire because you’re part of the two in four organizations that rush the interview process. And you wouldn’t be alone; seven in ten businesses believe these problems have exacerbated in the last year and aren’t expected to slow down.  

Enough numbers to raise your eyebrows? Keep reading.

As experts with 25 years in the recruitment space, we’ve seen the consequences of poor or outdated interview processes firsthand. Most of our clients who failed to conduct proper interviews in the past saw the trickle-down effect of a bad hire: wasted resources, poor work performance, a decline in team morale, rehire costs, and inefficiency, among other things.

The Trickle-Down Effect Of A Bad Hire

The “trickle-down” effect of a bad hire refers to the negative impact that an underperforming or unsuitable employee can have on a company and its overall functioning. When a bad hire is made, it can affect various aspects of the organization.

Drain on Company Time & Resources: Dealing with a bad hire costs time and resources that take away from management and HR, including onboarding and training, performance management, or eventually having to terminate the individual’s employment.

Subpar Quality of Work: A bad hire may produce subpar work or make frequent errors, which can negatively impact the overall quality of the team’s output. This harms the company’s reputation if clients receive substandard services.

Decreased Team Productivity: When a bad hire is unable to fulfill their responsibilities effectively, it can lead to decreased productivity within the team or department. Other employees may need to spend additional time correcting errors, managing conflicts, or providing training and guidance to the underperforming individual, which can divert their attention from their own tasks.

Unstable Team Dynamics: A bad hire can disrupt the dynamics and synergy within a team or an entire organization, depending on the role. This can cause a breakdown in communication, hinder collaboration, and impede the team’s ability to achieve its goals effectively.

Negative Impact on Company Culture: If the hire fails to meet expectations or demonstrates poor work ethic, it can create frustration and resentment among other employees who have to deal with the consequences of the bad hire’s mistakes.

Damage to Company Reputation: A bad hire who interacts with clients, customers, or other external stakeholders can damage the company’s reputation. Negative experiences or interactions can lead to dissatisfied clients, lost business opportunities, and a tarnished image in the marketplace.

Increased Turnover: A bad hire can significantly impact turnover within an organization, not only in the position itself but within your team, triggering a chain reaction of turnover as other top-performing employees consider leaving.

Expensive Rehire Costs: A bad hire can lead to expensive rehire costs due to the significant financial outlay required to correct the hiring mistake. The costs associated with onboarding, training, and lost productivity make a bad hire a costly setback.

By recognizing potential pitfalls and actively working to improve the interview process using our proven tactics and techniques, hiring managers can gain a deep understanding of candidates beyond resume bullet points.   

Check out our in-depth and comprehensive guide to learn how to drive a human-centric interview process that will help you attract top-tier candidates who will remain dedicated to your organization for the long haul. 

Candidate Persona

With a well-defined candidate persona, interviewers can tailor their questions and assessments to align with the specific skills and qualities sought in the ideal candidate. This targeted approach ensures that the interview process is focused and efficient, enabling interviewers to gather more relevant information about each candidate’s fit for the role. 

First and foremost, your ‘ideal candidate’ is a subjective concept. It can take on various interpretations depending on who’s discussing it. For a team member, it could be someone who’s communicable and savvy at Excel formulas. In comparison, next-level leaders may want someone unafraid to ask difficult questions and know how to prioritize various projects. When we use this term, we refer to someone who possesses the necessary skills to do the job successfully and who adds to the existing organizational culture. 

candidate persona, also called a job profile, is where marketing meets recruiting. It’s a research-driven representation of your ideal candidate, from their background and experience to their personality traits and work style. 

To start, you’ll need to identify the role’s key responsibilities and objectives, then develop a list of qualities and attributes that would best complement those requirements. From there, you can build a more nuanced profile of your ideal candidate, considering factors like their experience level, education, communication style, and cultural contribution. 

Done right, a candidate persona should be so comprehensive that new additions to your hiring team can use the document to get up to speed seamlessly. To create yours, there are a few items that you should define: 

  • Career goals  
  • Background and experience  
  • Interests – personal and professional 
  • Key demographics 
  • Devices and platforms 
  • Tech proficiency  

Here’s a candidate persona template that you can use to get started:

Developing your candidate persona can be time-consuming, but the process is straightforward. Allot enough time for careful planning and preparation with your team for the best outcome. (We recommend at least a 2-hour session.) Remember that you may need to revisit your persona regularly as the needs or job scope changes. 

Once you have identified your ideal candidate for a role, it’s time to incorporate your persona into the interview process. We advise developing a fresh candidate persona for each new post or job vacancy you fill. Over time, you’ll build up a collection that you may use to streamline and improve your interview process.  

Candidate personas mold the interview process, creating alignment with the job description, interview questions, assessments, and interactions with the specific attributes and characteristics outlined in the persona. During the interview, tailored questions can be asked to evaluate the candidate’s alignment with the persona, such as inquiring about their relevant past experiences, problem-solving approaches, or how they handle specific situations (which we’ll dive into in Part 3 of this eBook).  

By consistently referencing the persona throughout the interview process, interviewers can objectively assess candidates’ suitability for the role and make more informed decisions in selecting the best person for the position. 

The Most Common Interview Types & When To Use Them

With the various interview types that have popped up in recent years, it can be challenging to determine which to pair up with your specific needs and candidate type. Choosing usually boils down to two things: The seniority level of the role and how quickly the role needs to be filled. 

In 2017, Glassdoor discovered that the typical U.S. job interview process lasted nearly 24 days.

Employers need to be aware of this balance. Do more interview layers exist because they have been shown to help choose better candidates? Or are they just an additional step that slows down hiring? It’s common for hiring managers to use a methodical combination of interview types to optimize the interview process.  

By understanding the different types of interviews and when to use them, you can improve your own interview process. Use our breakdown of interview types below as a benchmark for your own approach. 

General Interview Types

Phone Screen

Use Case: Directly after the preliminary screening.  

Phone screening is a go-to for bigger businesses with several applicants to fish through. Before spending more time and effort on a prospect, you can swiftly narrow down your list of potential candidates and get the fundamental questions answered. 

During this brief conversation, candidates answer any questions the interviewer may have about their background or experience. Before inviting a candidate in for a face-to-face interview, the interviewer may also go into further detail about the position to determine the candidate’s level of interest. They’ll confirm: 

  • Employment history 
  • Education 
  • Licenses 
  • Certifications 
  • Gaps in employment discussion 
  • Gathering salary and benefits expectations (What requirements does the candidate have?) 
  • Commute 
  • On-site or remote work 
  • Shift preferences 
  • Full-time or part-time 

In-Person Interview

Use Case: Ideal for local or higher-level candidates (typically follows the phone screen). 

In-person interviews (which typically follow the phone screen) are the most disruptive but are the best way to get to know a candidate and allow for the opportunity to pick up on non-verbal cues (more on that later).  Additionally, these interviews are preferable for organizations with a smaller applicant pool and jobs where only one person is needed to conduct the interview.  

The traditional in-person interview is still the most common type used in interview processes across organizations and industries.  

61% percent of job searchers questioned by Jobvite have gone through a face-to-face interview.

Jobvite Survey

During in-person interviews, you can observe what it’s like to be in the same room and establish a deeper connection with a candidate. While it’s true that interview anxiety can affect applicants’ behavior, there will likely be moments when they must deal with coworkers in awkward or difficult situations. Using an in-person interview can give hiring managers a sense of how a candidate will react in these settings. 

It is worth noting the drawbacks of an in-person interview. First, this interview type requires more time commitment, and scheduling difficulties on both sides can cause the interview process to slow to a crawl. In addition, it’s possible that people with impairments and members of unrepresented groups may not perform as well in person as they would online. Lastly, there may be unintentional rejection of those who might find it challenging to travel, even locally, for interviews, such as single parents, low-income individuals, etc.

Virtual Interview

Use Case: Candidates cannot be seen in person, or there are scheduling conflicts among leadership. 

During COVID-19, virtual interviewing became the norm out of necessity. However, this type of interview has become commonplace due to the convenience of using platforms like Zoom and Teams. According to a recent Indeed survey, 82% of employers surveyed use virtual interviews, and 93% of employers plan to continue using them. 

Virtual interviews may be perfect for businesses with remote, telecommuting, or freelance staff as it will enable them to interview any candidate from anywhere with a more face-to-face feel than a phone interview. Virtual interviews are typically faster and require less downtime in between. They can therefore speed up the interview process by enabling you to meet with more candidates in a single day. Plus, candidates are more likely to be available for interviews when they are relaxed about logistics like childcare, travel, or commuting.  

While flexibility is beneficial, a potential downside is that you are at the whim of networks and software during virtual interviews. Interviews can be disrupted or complicated by connectivity issues and software bugs. Additionally, some candidates may not have access to the technology required to participate in an online interview, such as a computer or mobile device.

Case Study or Case Interview

Use Case: Most effective mechanism for an accurate measure of skill. 

This interview type gives your candidate a hypothetical problem to investigate and solve. This allows hiring managers to evaluate their business personality, critical thinking, technical knowledge, and problem-solving abilities. A prompt example might be, “How can Company X double its profits in the next three years.”  

This interview is quite specialized and is typically used to hire professionals from various types of industries. After being a standard for consulting agencies and financial institutions, it’s now been adopted by software companies, NGOs, and marketing firms.  

Providing technical projects with time constraints and base recruiting decisions on which applicant completes the task the best is especially useful. This test may be the majority of the formal screening process in specific circumstances.  

For example, if a web designer is needed, the candidate can analyze and critique an existing web page to see what new concepts they can bring to the table. Or it could look something like this if you’re feeling inventive. 

More Advanced Interview Types 

Self-Guided Video Interview

Use Case: Efficient for companies with hefty hiring needs or who need more control. 

Self-guided or one-way interviews are a pre-screening tactic employers use to decide whether candidates should advance to the next round of interviews. These typically take the place of phone screens in industries involving high-tech and SaaS positions.  

These on-demand interviews have the candidate record themselves responding to pre-determined on-screen questions or prompts instead of being asked directly by the hiring manager or recruiter.  

According to video interview experts at HireVue, there are various ways to deliver these types of questions, including: 

  • Questions asked via pre-recorded video: Gives the candidate a given time to respond after the video finishes (generally around 3 minutes). 
  • Questions asked in a simple text format: Normally, 30 seconds are given for the candidate to read the question and prepare their response. 
  • Questions requiring written responses (or drawings): If you need to fill a role that involves a great deal of writing, it’s best to ask for a written response to a prompt. Often these will involve doing outside research outside the interview window.  
  • Coding challenges: When trying to fill a software development or other high-tech role, ask for coded responses to a prompt. These challenges can be in any language the candidate is expected to code on the job.  

While this interview style can be beneficial when filtering a high number of candidates and provides flexibility, some candidates may feel uncomfortable or come off as impersonal when recording themselves. Many consider these the most awkward type of interview for candidates.

Technical Interview

Use Case: For more technical roles, made to assess a candidate’s technical skillset. 

Employers hiring for engineering, scientific, or software roles frequently conduct technical interviews. It is essentially an interview to determine technical suitability for the position and the depth and breadth of the candidate’s subject-matter expertise. 

Technical interviews are also intended to evaluate the candidate’s capacity for problem-solving, communication, and decision-making under pressure. Managers will be able to monitor the method utilized to complete a challenge, like solving a technical problem, writing code, debugging, etc., since it provides a window into how the candidate approaches challenges in the workplace.  

Examples of technical interview questions include: 

  • What is your preferred mobile application, and what improvements would you make? 
  • Describe a challenging engineering challenge you recently overcame. 
  • Can you describe when you developed and used a technical ability in practice? 
  • How would you create a device’s touch interface? 
  • Without utilizing the divide “/”‘ operator, create a function that divides two numbers. 
  • Describe the various losses that might happen to a transformer. 
  • Describe how symmetric and asymmetric encryption differs and when either is more suited for a particular situation. 

Group Interview

Use Case: A need for multiple candidates to fill a similar role. 

 A group interview is an assessment process where one or more interviewers evaluate multiple candidates at the same time. Instead of the traditional one-on-one format, candidates are brought together in a group setting to participate in various activities or discussions designed to evaluate their skills, abilities, and fit for the job. 

Group interviews offer several benefits to employers, such as efficient use of time, the ability to observe candidate dynamics and interpersonal skills, and the opportunity to assess teamwork and collaboration. These interview types are ideal when filling positions that demand exceptional people skills, particularly those frequently interacting with customers or the public.  

Panel Interview 

Use Case: Expedites the hiring process and helps reduce personal bias. 

In a panel interview, a number of managers and executives come together to question a single candidate. Three to five interviewers ensure the procedure is manageable and the candidates are seen from various angles. The panel typically includes the hiring manager, an HR representative, and members of the department the new hire will be working with. Interviewers take turns posing questions and can use the answers to guide subsequent inquiries. 

Panel interviews provide an excellent opportunity to evaluate a candidate’s skills and quickly obtain a well-rounded viewpoint from a diverse panel of participants who contribute various experiences, viewpoints, and ideas to the discussion. 

Additionally, panel interviews facilitate consistency and standardization in the evaluation process. All candidates face the same set of interviewers, ensuring a fair and equitable assessment. It minimizes the risk of individual biases or subjective evaluations that may occur in one-on-one interviews.

Which interview type works best for your role(s)?

Choosing the best interview type for a role involves considering various factors, including the nature of the position, the skills and qualities being assessed, the number of candidates, and the resources available. Hiring managers should ask the following questions to get started: 

What are the job requirements? Identify the critical skills, competencies, and qualities that are essential for success in the position. Consider the level of complexity, the need for specific technical expertise, and the importance of interpersonal or communication skills. 

What are specific criteria you will use to evaluate candidates? Are you primarily looking for technical proficiency, cultural fit, problem-solving abilities, or a combination of factors? Understanding your evaluation criteria will help guide the selection of an appropriate interview type. 

How many candidates are you interviewing? If you have a large pool of candidates, a group interview may be more efficient to assess multiple candidates simultaneously. However, if you have a smaller number of highly qualified candidates, individual interviews may provide a more personalized and in-depth assessment. 

How much time can you allot to the interview process? Consider the time, resources, and logistics required for each interview type. Some formats, such as assessment centers or panel interviews, may demand more planning, coordination, and resources. Ensure you have the resources available to conduct the chosen interview type effectively.  

Delays may benefit the company in the long run if they lead to better hires due to more deliberate, time-intensive interview processes. However, an interview process that’s too slow runs the risk of wasting money and losing impatient prospects to rival organizations. Companies must choose between more thoroughly vetting applicants or filling open positions faster. 

What is the work environment and the dynamics of the position? For example, if the role requires strong teamwork and collaboration, a group discussion or a team exercise during the interview process may be more suitable to assess candidates’ interpersonal skills and ability to work in a team. 

What does the candidate prefer? Offering job seekers the opportunity to choose between a face-to-face and virtual interview could benefit your interview process. Over 50% of candidates say they felt that virtual interviews gave them an advantage in allowing their true selves to shine through.  

Allowing candidates to select how they prefer to be interviewed may reduce anxiety and enable you to gain further insight into who would fit well in the vacant role. 

Continue to Employer Interviewing Part 2: Laying Out The Interview Process →

If you are interested in learning how Hueman can help your organization attract and retain talent, contact us today!